The effect of incorrect grammar,
spelling, and word usage in books
I am not some kind of grammar marm shaking my finger at participles. I don’t really care or can even claim to know or be able to detect all grammar mistakes.
The beauty of a well-edited book, especially a work of fiction, is that It maintains it’s world, it’s illusion that you are actively willing or seeking to get involved with. When I am reading something like that I am not saying to myself “Oh this is great, there aren’t any misspellings or other kinds of mistakes in this text!” Rather, their absence keeps the flow of the narrative and things go along smoothly as the author wishes.
The Illusion is Broken
The illusion is broken, though, when there are mistakes that should have been caught and weren’t. Nowadays, these mistakes are most often ones that a spell checker tool will never catch.
Here’s an example: “Well, do your drinking and naval gazing here,
Do you see the mistake in the quoted sentence? It was about the third mistake like that in the approximately 10 pages I had read of this novel. The book was looking promising, good scenario and character development, but mistakes like that were ruining the world-building effect that the science fiction novel was attempting.
I just couldn’t read any more
I decided I just couldn’t read any more – It was clear I was going to continue to be disappointed if I did.
If you didn’t catch the mistake in the quoted sentence it was this: the correct phrase would be “navel gazing”, not “naval” gazing.
Either the spell checker didn’t get it, or the author didn’t know the difference.
Another mistake just a few page before was using the word “vice” when it should have been “vise.”
That one is very common mistake nowadays. It irritates me and destroys the enjoyment of the book, and it can’t be caught by anything but a good editor.
The fact is, there probably are some formatting mistakes in this article I’m writing that I won’t catch (and don’t really care all that much about).
I’m talking about mistakes that throw the reader back into the world they are trying to escape from, and that’s not usually caused by run-on sentences or things like that. Instead, it’s more from mistakes that jar the reader away from their enjoyment, making it clear that they are reading a crafted narrative rather than an inspired work of storytelling.
So please, if your works are important to you and they must be if you are writing and publishing books, please do your best to weed out the mistakes that make people want to put the book down, to stop reading.
I wanted to read the book!
I wanted to read the book quoted above but I won’t now because it’s clear that it’s full of mistakes and I won’t be able to enjoy it.
There is a world of difference in a thoroughly checked and edited book and one that is not. One keeps you in their world, and the other one throws you out.